|Rapid Assessment Procedures : Ethnographic Methods to investigate Women's Health (International Nutrition Foundation - INF, 1998, 196 pages)|
|Overview of the protocol|
Ethnographic research attempts to understand human beliefs and behavior from the point of view of the people being studied (this is known as taking the emic or "insider" perspective). Researchers usually have a different point of view, (known as the etic or "outsider" perspective). This protocol is designed to collect emic data systematically, in a way that has etic significance. Ethnographic research goes further than merely describing people's behavior, by seeking to understand why people do what they do. Through understanding the reasons for people's behaviors (including the obstacles people encounter in seeking health care), planners can adapt programs to cultural conditions.
Ethnographic research is characterized by a flexible and iterative approach. Hypotheses are continually developed, tested, and redefined through a series of feedback loops during data collection. Unlike survey research, analysis is ongoing during the process of data collection. This allows the researcher to identify areas that that need further investigation while still in the field. False leads or unproductive areas of research can be eliminated. Methods are usually adapted as needed and new methods may be developed to address specific questions.
This protocol uses many different methods to address the same three topic areas. Using several techniques to investigate the same question is a form of triangulation³, which helps ensure the validity of qualitative data.
Triangulation: The use of multiple methods to investigate the same research question. Triangulation looks for "convergent validity," in which several methods give the same results. For example, in biomedicine, anthropometric measurements, analysis of blood samples, and clinical examination might all be used to determine that a person is malnourished.